Cover art for podcast Democracy Works

Democracy Works

96 EpisodesProduced by Penn State McCourtney Institute for DemocracyWebsite

Examining what it means to live in a democracy

episodes iconAll Episodes

The democracy rebellion happening in states across the U.S.

December 2nd, 2019

42:26

Hedrick Smith is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of bestselling books The RussiansWho Stole the American Dream? and many others. …

A roundtable on impeachment, institutions, and legitimacy

November 25th, 2019

55:27

This week’s episode is a conversation between Michael Berkman, Chris Beem, and Michael Baranowski of The Politics Guys, a podcast that looks at …

Your guide to ranked-choice voting

November 18th, 2019

38:13

Ranked-choice voting has been in the news a lot lately. It was adopted in New York City’s November 2019 election, used for the first time in U.S. Congressional elections last year, and will be the method by which at …

Latino immigrants and the changing makeup of American democracy

November 11th, 2019

41:48

We’ve talked about immigration several times on this show with good reason. The role that people coming to the United States play in our democracy is …

Inside the world’s largest democracy

November 4th, 2019

38:51

More than 600 million people voted in India’s most recent election, but that does not mean all is well with democracy there. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP recently won re-election on a platform based on Hindu …

Changing the climate conversation

October 28th, 2019

39:23

Climate change is perhaps the most pressing issue of our time, but it’s so big that it can be difficult to imagine how you as an individual can make …

From political crisis to profound change

October 21st, 2019

37:41

October 21, 2019

Last week, we heard from Andrew Sullivan about the challenges facing the future of democracy in the United States and around the …

Andrew Sullivan on democracy’s double-edged sword

October 14th, 2019

40:16

This is one of the most pessimistic episodes we’ve done, but it’s worth hearing. Andrew Sullivan, New York magazine contributing editor, Daily Dish

The case for open primaries

October 7th, 2019

34:45

In about a dozen U.S. states, the only people who can vote in primary elections are those who are registered with a party. Republicans vote in the Republican primary and Democrats vote in the Democratic primary. This …

Understanding impeachment — from the Federalist Papers to the whistleblower

September 30th, 2019

31:46

We bring you special episode of Democracy Works this week that’s all about impeachment. Michael Berkman takes the lead on this episode and talks with …

Street-level bureaucrats at the border

September 23rd, 2019

39:27

Immigration is one of the most complex issues of our time in the United States and around the world. Enforcing immigration law in the U.S. involves a …

Out of Order: A conversation with Mitch Landrieu and Margaret Carlson

September 20th, 2019

37:15

Today we’re bringing you a bonus episode from Out of Order, a podcast produced by the German Marshal Fund of the United States. Out of Order is a podcast about how our world was, is, and will be ordered.

How do we save …

China’s threat to democracies around the world

September 16th, 2019

39:44

Larry Diamond joins us this week to talk about the threat China’s model of authoritarian capitalism poses to liberal democracy in the United States …

One state’s fight for fair maps

September 9th, 2019

35:30

Pennsylvania is one of several states trying to ensure fair congressional maps are drawn after the 2020 Census. As we say in the episode, redistricting is one of democracy’s thorniest problems. It’s easy to say you want …

How music transcends political polarization

September 2nd, 2019

30:33

Last week, we heard from Aaron Maybin about the ways visual art relates to his conception and practice of democracy. This week, we are going to look at the relationship between art and democracy through the lens of …

Doing the hard work of democracy in Baltimore

September 1st, 2019

43:25

You might remember Aaron Maybin from his time on the football field at Penn State or in the NFL. These days, he’s doing something much different. He’s an artist, activist, and educator in his hometown of Baltimore and …

How conspiracies are damaging democracy

September 1st, 2019

36:53

From Pizzagate to Jeffrey Epstein, conspiracies seem to be more prominent than ever in American political discourse. What was once confined to the …

Defending the First Amendment and the Fourth Estate

August 12th, 2019

32:49

 

We are back with new episodes this week, and we’re starting with an interview that we recorded in New York City earlier this summer. David McCraw is the Deputy General Counsel of the New York Times and author of Truth …

Standing up for science and fighting the climate wars [rebroadcast]

August 5th, 2019

37:56

For the last of our summer rebroadcasts, we are revisiting the conversation with Penn State’s Michael Mann, a world-renowned climate scientist. We’ve just finished the warmest month in global recorded history, so it …

Tracing the past, present, and future of protests

July 29th, 2019

Since we started this show, we’ve had the opportunity to speak with several organizers, from Joyce Ladner in the Civil Rights movement to Srdja …

A conversation about conversation [rebroadcast]

July 22nd, 2019

This week, we are revisiting another episode from the Democracy Works back catalog. This discussion is a nice companion to our episode with Timothy …

Politics and Polls: Blue state federalism

July 15th, 2019

Democracy Works summer break 2019 continues with an episode from Politics and Polls, a podcast produced by the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and …

The Pledge: Are you scared of the cafeteria lady?

July 15th, 2019

Our summer break continues this week with an episode of The Pledge, a podcast about people who are taking an active role in improving democracy in …

How Democracies Die author Daniel Ziblatt on the “grinding work” of democracy [rebroadcast]

July 8th, 2019

Daniel Ziblatt

Our summer break continues this week with a rebroadcast of one of our very first episodes, a conversation with How Democracies Die author Daniel Ziblatt. He spoke at Penn State in March 2018. Both the …

A democracy summer reading list [rebroadcast]

July 1st, 2019

Democracy Works is taking a few weeks off for the summer. While we do, we are going to share some older episodes you might have missed, along with a …

Answering your questions about democracy

June 24th, 2019

Is the United States really a democracy? What will the EU look like in 50 years? What should 2020 candidates be doing to demonstrate civility? Those …

Congressional oversight and making America pragmatic again

June 17th, 2019

We tend to think about congressional oversight in very academic terms — checks and balances, the Framers, etc. But what does it actually look like on the ground in Congress? To find out, we’re talking this week with …

Will AI destroy democracy?

June 10th, 2019

Jay Yonamine

Some political scientists and democracy scholars think that it might. The thinking goes something like this: inequality will rise as …

The 2019 version of Democracy in America

June 3rd, 2019

Lindsay Lloyd. Photo by Grant Miller

If Alexis de Tocqueville visited America today, what would he have to say about the condition of our democracy?

What neoliberalism left behind

May 27th, 2019

Much like our conversation with Patricia Roberts-Miller on demagoguery last week, neoliberalism is one of those fuzzy words that can mean something …

Demagogues are more common than you think

May 20th, 2019

Patricia Roberts-Miller

When you think of the word “demagogue,” what comes to mind? Probably someone like Hitler or another bombastic leader, right? …

What does the Mueller report mean for democracy?

May 13th, 2019

Laura Rosenberger

By now, you’ve no doubt head all about the report issued by Special Counsel Robert Mueller and the drama in Washington that’s ensued in the time since its release. But, if you only focus on the …

School segregation then and now

May 6th, 2019

Crystal Sanders

It’s been 65 years since the Brown v. Board of Education changed public schooling throughout a large portion of the United States. In …

What Serial taught Sarah Koenig about criminal justice — recorded live at Penn State

April 29th, 2019

Sarah Koenig spent a year inside Cleveland’s criminal justice system for season three of the Serial podcast. Along the way, she met some interesting people and had a birds-eye view of what justice (and injustice) look …

Is it time to revive civility?

April 22nd, 2019

Timothy Shaffer

There are a lot of calls these days to “revive civility” in politics. While there are plenty of examples of uncivil behavior, there’s …

E.J. Dionne on empathy and democracy

April 15th, 2019

E.J. Dionne

E.J. Dionne has the unique perspective of studying the horse race and the big picture of American politics. He writes a twice-weekly …

No Jargon: Who controls the states?

April 8th, 2019

We are excited to bring you an episode from No Jargon, a podcast from the Scholars Strategy Network. Much like Democracy Works, No Jargon aims to …

The ongoing struggle for civil rights

April 8th, 2019

Joyce Ladner was at the forefront of the Civil Rights Movement in Mississippi in the 1950s and 60s as a member of the Student Nonviolent …

Immigration, refugees, and the politics of displacement

April 1st, 2019

Jan Egeland

From Brexit to Hungary to the U.S. border wall, many of today’s political conflicts center around immigration. Moving people from one …

A playbook for organizing in turbulent times

March 25th, 2019

Srdja Popovic

20 years ago, Srdja Popovic was part of a revolution — literally. He was a founding member of the Otpor! movement that ousted Serbia …

Jonathan Haidt on the psychology of democracy

March 18th, 2019

Jonathan Haidt

We say on this show all the time that democracy is hard work. But what does that really mean? What it is about our dispositions that makes it so hard to see eye to eye and come together for the greater …

Future Hindsight: Ian Bremmer on the failure of globalism

March 14th, 2019

We are closing out our series on democracy around the world with a bonus episode from Future Hindsight, a show that features deep conversations with guests who are engaged in strengthening our society. This episode is a …

Brexit and the UK’s identity crisis

March 11th, 2019

Sona Golder

We’re just a few weeks away from the deadline for the UK to reach an agreement on its plan to leave the European Union. Nearly three …

Brazil’s tenuous relationship with democracy

March 4th, 2019

Gianpaolo Baiocchi

To say Brazil has had a complicated history with democracy is a understatement. The country has bounced in and out authoritarian …

Yellow vests and the “grand debate” in France

February 25th, 2019

Cole Stangler

This episode is the second in our series looking at democracy around the world. France is the focus this week. Our guest is Cole …

Viktor Orbán’s “velvet repression” in Hungary

February 18th, 2019

This episode begins a four-part series examining the state of democracy around the world. First up is Hungary, a country that’s often referred to in a group of countries in central and Eastern Europe that are seeing …

A brief history of “people power”

February 11th, 2019

In his book Can Democracy Work? A Short History of a Radical Idea from Ancient Athens to Our World, James Miller encapsulates 2500 years of …

The power of local government

February 4th, 2019

No matter where you live, chances are that your local government is filled with things like feasibility studies, property tax assessments, and …

Using the tools of democracy to address economic inequality

January 28th, 2019

Chris Witko

Democracy and inequality have been at odds for as long as democracy as has existed. As the gap between rich and poor widens, so too does …

What is democracy? A conversation with Astra Taylor

January 21st, 2019

We begin our third season with a fundamental question: What is democracy?

Astra Taylor grapples with this question in a documentary of the same name and a forthcoming book. We talk with her this week about what she …

Trump on Earth: The Red State Paradox

January 14th, 2019

We’ll be back with new episodes starting next week. This week’s episode comes to you from our friends at Trump on Earth, a podcast that’s taking a closer look at all the changes coming out of Washington on the …

It’s good to be counted [rebroadcast]

January 7th, 2019

For this week’s rebroadcast, we revisit an episode on the U.S. Census that originally aired in May 2018. New episodes return January 21 when we talk with “What is Democracy?” director Astra Taylor.

Jennifer Van Hook

The …

When states sue the federal government [rebroadcast]

December 31st, 2018

Our holiday break continues this week as we bring you an episode with with Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro that originally aired in …

Citizenship, patriotism, and democracy in the classroom [rebroadcast]

December 24th, 2018

While we take a holiday break, we are going back into the archives to rebroadcast a few of our favorite episodes from earlier this year. This one …

2018: The year in democracy

December 17th, 2018

Michael Berkman

From gerrymandering to record voter turnout, it’s been a busy year for democracy. This doesn’t mean that everything has been positive, but there’s certainly plenty to reflect on. This week, Michael …

The complicated relationship between campaign finance and democracy

December 10th, 2018

Caroline Hunter

In the United States, voting is a very private act. You step into the booth alone and, for a lot of people, it’s considered taboo to …

Bonus: Capturing the nation’s mood

December 6th, 2018

Eric Plutzer

We end almost every episode of the show with four questions that come from the McCourtney Institute for Democracy’s Mood of the Nation …

Are land-grant universities still “democracy’s colleges?”

December 3rd, 2018

Land-grant universities were once known as “democracy’s colleges,” places where people who were not wealthy elites could earn the education …

Norman Eisen’s love letter to democracy

November 26th, 2018

As we’ve previously discussed, there are a lot of books about democracy filling book store and library shelves right now. Norman Eisen could have …

Winning the “democracy lottery”

November 19th, 2018

Robin Teater

It’s not the Powerball or the Mega Millions, but this democracy lottery does give people the chance to directly impact information that appears on the ballot in their state. Like a lot of things we talk …

From soldier-statesman to the warrior ethos: Gen. Wesley Clark on the military and democracy

November 12th, 2018

Gen. Wesley Clark

We observe Veterans Day this week, a time when people across the United States remember and thank those who have served in the military. While the military remains one of the most respected …

Protecting democracy from foreign interference — recorded live at the National Press Club

November 5th, 2018

Laura Rosenberger

With the midterms this week, all eyes are on the threat of election hacking and interference. Electoral integrity is important, but as you’ll hear in this week’s episode, the threats to American …

Will Millennials disrupt democracy?

October 29th, 2018

Stella Rouse

From cooking to shopping to getting around town, disruption is the name of the game for Millennials. Will they do the same thing to democracy?

Millennials, or those born between 1981 and 1996, are now …

David Frum on developing the habits of democracy

October 22nd, 2018

Around the McCourtney Institute, we like to say that we’re “partisans for democracy.” We can think of few people who better embody that notion today than David Frum. He was among the first people to talk about the …

When states sue the federal government

October 15th, 2018

It seems like every few weeks, we see headlines about states banding together to block actions taken by the federal government. You might even remember former Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott quipping that he goes to …

How “if it bleeds, it leads” impacts democracy

October 8th, 2018

Peter Enns

The problems with the prison system in the U.S. have been well documented, but what’s not talked about nearly as often is how things got this way. Why does there seem to be such enthusiasm for putting people …

A story about democracy, told through 20 million traffic stops

October 1st, 2018

The lights flash in your rearview mirror as the police car comes up behind you. A sinking feeling forms in the pit of your stomach as the officer …

Breaking the silence in Syria

September 24th, 2018

We’ve talked before on this show about the importance of a free press, but this week’s episode brings a whole new meaning to the term. In 2014, …

Citizenship, patriotism, and democracy in the classroom

September 17th, 2018

As a piece in The Atlantic recently noted, democracy is not natural. Becoming a democratic citizen involves a set of behaviors that need to be …

Behind the scenes of the “Year of the Woman”

September 10th, 2018

Rebecca Kreitzer

One of the biggest headlines to emerge heading into the 2018 midterms is the record number of female candidates in local, state, and national races. While it’s easy to point to this a post-Trump …

The democrats in public sector unions [Labor Day rebroadcast]

September 3rd, 2018

Paul Clark

This week, we are rebraodcasting our conversation about public sector unions from earlier this year with Paul Clark, director of the

Middle America, Part 2: Grassroots organizing and rebooting democracy

August 27th, 2018

Last week, we heard from Salena Zito about the segments of middle America who supported Donald Trump after voting for Barack Obama. This week, we …

Middle America, Part 1: Populism and the Trump Voter

August 20th, 2018

In the effort to understand the people who voted for Donald Trump in 2016, a style of reporting has emerged that Chris Hayes recently described as “

Facebook is not a democracy

August 13th, 2018

Matt Jordan

We have access to more information now than at any other time in history, but we trust that information less than ever before. A Gallup survey recently found that 58 percent of respondents felt less informed …

How will we remember Charlottesville?

August 6th, 2018

This weekend marks the one-year anniversary of the Unite The Right rally and counter protests in Charlottesville, Virginia that claimed the life of Heather Heyer and set off a firestorm around President Trump’s remarks …

A democracy reading list

July 9th, 2018

If you’ve been to a book store or the library lately, then you’ve probably seen at least a few books on democracy on the shelves. The 2016 presidential election spurred a lot of conversation about the current state of …

Bonus: A dose of optimism about the future of democracy

July 5th, 2018

If you need a sense of hope about the future of democracy, you’ve come to the right place. Stephanie Keyaka, editor-in-chief of The Underground and one of the McCourtney Institute’s Nevins Fellows, is spending the …

The constitutional crisis episode

July 2nd, 2018

This is one we’ve been wanting to do since we started the podcast. The term constitutional crisis is frequently used but often misunderstood. Like democracy, it’s hard to define but you know it when you see it.

If …

Unpacking political polarization

June 25th, 2018

Polarization is a term that’s thrown around among political pundits as one reason for the decline of American democracy — often without an …

What should voting look like in the 21st century?

June 18th, 2018

Across the U.S., the process to register to vote and cast a ballot is different in every state. And we’re not just talking about minor details. The entire registration process and timeline can vary widely from one …

When the “business of business” bleeds into politics

June 11th, 2018

What is the role of a corporation in a democracy? If you asked Milton Friedman, the answer would be none at all. He famously said in the 1970s that …

Michael Mann’s journey through the climate wars

June 4th, 2018

This episode is not about climate change. Well, not directly, anyway. Instead, we talk with Nobel Prize winner and Penn State Distinguished …

Can young people revive civic engagement?

May 29th, 2018

Peter Levine is one of the country’s leading scholars in the area of civic engagement. He is the Associate Dean for Research and Lincoln Filene …

Bonus: Democracy In Action #1

May 24th, 2018

We love talking with scholars and thought leaders on Democracy Works, but we’d also like to bring you the everyday stories of democracy in action. …

A conversation about conversation

May 21st, 2018

This week’s episode seeks to answer one simple, but very important, question: Why is it so hard for people to talk to each other? There are a lot of …

Ten thousand democracies

May 11th, 2018

One of the things we talked about in our episode with How Democracies Die author Daniel Ziblatt is the “grinding work” that it takes to make a …

It’s good to be counted

May 8th, 2018

Jennifer Van Hook

The next census is just around the corner 2020, and the U.S. Census Bureau is already hard at work on preparing to count the more than 325 million people in the United States. The census is one of the …

Satire is good for more than just a few laughs

May 1st, 2018

Political satire has been around nearly as long as politics itself and can provide a much needed laugh in times of crisis.

But, as you’ll hear from …

Tommie Smith: From sharecropper to Olympic protester

April 24th, 2018

Tommie Smith is a true living legend. He won a gold medal in the men’s 200 meter event at the 1968 Olympics, setting a world record in the process. …

Generation Z and the future of democracy

April 17th, 2018

Over the past few months, the members of Generation Z have combined the tenets of traditional social movements with the power of social media to reimagine what it means to protest in a democracy. That energy was on …

How Democracies Die author Daniel Ziblatt on the ‘grinding work’ of democracy

April 10th, 2018

Daniel Ziblatt

Daniel Ziblatt has done a lot of interviews since the release of How Democracies Die, the bestselling book he co-wrote with Steven Levitsky. But we asked him a question he’d never gotten before — about a …

What can Pennsylvania voters do about gerrymandering?

April 3rd, 2018

Chris Satullo

Pennsylvania received a new congressional map earlier this year, closing the books on what was widely considered one of the most …

Fake news, clickbait, and the future of local journalism

March 27th, 2018

Can philanthropy save local journalism? Are the calls of “fake news” from Washington impacting the work of journalists in other parts of the country? …

Checking the President’s power

March 20th, 2018

From Watergate to Benghazi to Robert Mueller, U.S. history is full of congressional hearings. You’ve no doubt heard about them in the news, but do …

Is Colin Kaepernick a good democrat?

March 14th, 2018

Abe Khan

No matter how much of a sports fan you are, you probably remember seeing Colin Kaepernick kneeling during National Anthem. President Trump …

What is Democracy Works?

March 12th, 2018

From the McCourtney Institute for Democracy at Penn State, this is Democracy Works. In this episode, hosts Michael Berkman and Chris Beem take a few minutes to explain why we wanted to start this podcast and what we …

Loading ...

Listen to Democracy Works

RadioPublic

A free podcast app for iPhone and Android

  • User-created playlists and collections
  • Download episodes while on WiFi to listen without using mobile data
  • Stream podcast episodes without waiting for a download
  • Queue episodes to create a personal continuous playlist
RadioPublic on iOS and Android
Or by RSS
RSS feed
https://www.democracyworkspodcast.com/feed/podcast/

Connect with listeners

Podcasters use the RadioPublic listener relationship platform to build lasting connections with fans

Yes, let's begin connecting
Browser window

Find new listeners

  • A dedicated website for your podcast
  • Web embed players designed to convert visitors to listeners in the RadioPublic apps for iPhone and Android
Clicking mouse cursor

Understand your audience

  • Capture listener activity with affinity scores
  • Measure your promotional campaigns and integrate with Google and Facebook analytics
Graph of increasing value

Engage your fanbase

  • Deliver timely Calls To Action, including email acquistion for your mailing list
  • Share exactly the right moment in an episode via text, email, and social media
Icon of cellphone with money

Make money

  • Tip and transfer funds directly to podcastsers
  • Earn money for qualified plays in the RadioPublic apps with Paid Listens